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  • 10 Winter Weather Safety Tips for Pets

    We’re approaching a new year, but we’re also approaching the heart of winter where temperatures will be bitter cold and precipitation will take on frozen forms. While the weather won’t stop our pets from going out to do their business or play in the snow, there are many ways we can keep them protected from the elements of winter. Here are some tips to help pets stay safe and healthy during winter weather.

    1. Manage Time Outdoors

    No matter what the weather is like, dogs have to go outside to take care of business. And when it snows, many pets want to join us in the fun of snowball fights and building snowmen. So, the outdoors is inevitable, but you can manage how long they are outside and know what their limits are. Try to keep bathroom trips and outdoor playtime short, especially if your pet is more sensitive to cold temperatures. Long exposure to cold temperatures and precipitation can lead to your pet getting sick even after being brought back in. It’s best to keep pets indoors unless otherwise necessary.

    2. Clear Path and Check Chemicals

    If your pet does go outside, make sure they have a path cleared out in the snow to the area where they do their business. And be careful with any chemicals or salt products you put down to prevent ice. Antifreeze, for instance, smells and tastes sweet to pets but it’s toxic to them. Consider using a brand made from non-toxic propylene glycol, like Safe Paw. Products like Safe Paw are equally effective in getting rid of ice, but they are safe for pets, children and the environment because they don’t contain corrosive salts, chemicals or dyes that can be harmful.

    3. Inspect and Clean Pets

    Might be your routine for when it rains or your pet gets covered in mud, but it’s also a good practice for when it is cold or there is winter precipitation. Whether they are outside for bathroom breaks or walks, no matter how long, check your pet’s ears, paws and tail for any sign of frostbite or ice and snow buildup. Not only could it make them sick, it could cause internal damage and pain. And every time they come back inside, have a dry, clean towel handy, like the Tall Tails Cape Pocket Towel, to wipe down their legs, belly and paws so that any winter elements and products they encounter don’t irritate their skin and can’t be ingested when they lick themselves.

    4. Another Layer of Protection

    While grooming is imperative for pets all year round, try to avoid cutting your pet’s fur in the wintertime. Pets’ winter coat is a natural barrier from the harsh, cold elements so it will give them extra warmth when they go outside. Therefore, pets with longer or more fur don’t need an extra layer to go outside. Smaller pets and those with shorter coats may have more benefit and comfort by wearing a dog sweater or jacket, like the Silverton Weatherproof dog coat by Outward Hound, which is made to keep pets warm and dry from the wind, snow and rain.

    5. Think Twice About Pets and Cars

    This is imperative in the winter time. Stay cats, for instance, try to find warm areas when it is cold outside. One such place is near the engine of cars. Many cats get injured and/or killed from people turning on their cars not knowing the cats are there. To keep them safe, gently bang on the hood and sides of your car before you get in and turn it on. The banging will spook them out of your car. And for your own pets who join you in the car, do not leave them in a cold car. It’s just as dangerous to leave them in a cold car as it is to leave them in a hot car in the summertime.

    6. Relieve Anxiety

    Not all pets are fond of the cold weather, especially those who have come from abusive situations and used to be left in the cold. So, if you have a pet who gets anxious or nervous to go outside for a bathroom break or during an extreme winter storm, give your pets products that will help relieve their anxiety, like CBD supplements. Canna-Pet has CBD supplements that contains concentrated, naturally-occurring cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids from hemp to help naturally ease your pet’s anxiety. These and other CBD products help comfort pets in a safe and healthy manner.

    7. Visible Wear and Updated Identification

    More pets become lost in the winter than any other season because snowfall can disguise recognizable scents that would normally help them find their way home. Prevent your pets from becoming lost by keeping dogs leashed on walks or within the vicinity of your property. And give them reflective gear, like Corky’s Reflective Wear, so they can be seen during the dark hours of winter. In case you are separated from your pets, make sure they are licensed, microchipped and they are wearing up-to-date identification tags so that they can be returned safely to you.

    8. Keep Pets Hydrated

    This may seem like an unnecessary tip, but it’s actually a common misconception during the wintertime to not need water as often as in the warmer seasons. Dehydration can happen at any time in any season. In fact, winter air is dry and can be just as dangerous as the heat in the summer. It’s very important to make sure your pet has plenty of fresh, clean water to drink throughout the day.

    9. Give Shelter

    For any strays you have around that spend most of the time outdoors, give them shelter to keep them warm and dry. If possible, bring them indoors during sub-zero temperatures. For the rest of the time, offer a shelter space that is large enough to allow them to sit and lay down comfortable but also small enough to conserve body heat. The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw. Have the shelter face away from wind and cover the doorway with waterproof materials. They also need more food to replace energy lost from trying to stay warm so use plastic food and water dishes.

    10. Be Prepared

    Like any season, winter can bring extreme weather that causes possible power outages and more. It’s always good to be prepared for situations like this. Have an emergency kit with enough food, water and medication, like Sturtevants Canine Formula (also available for cats), to last your pets at least five days. Hopefully and most likely you will never need it, but should the situation arise, you and your pet will be thankful you planned ahead!

    Source: Tails and Toys

  • What is the Best Way to Transition Pets to New Foods?

    It’s important to slowly transition your pet to a new food so their system has a chance to adapt to the change. The transition period should be at minimum, ten days and could take upwards of two weeks, depending on your pet’s sensitivity to change:

    • Day 1 & 2: Feed 80% of your pet’s old food with 20% of the new food
    • Day 3 & 4: Feed 60% of your pet’s old food with 40% of the new food
    • Day 5 & 6: Feed 40% of your pet’s old food with 60% of the new food
    • Day 7, 8 & 9: Feed 20% of your pet’s old food with 80% of the new food
    • Day 10 & Forever: Feed 100% new food

    If your pet experiences any kind of digestive upset during this time, try slowing down the process to let his/her digestive tract adjust to the new food. Some vomiting and/or diarrhea can be normal when introducing new foods as the digestive process and the naturally occurring bacteria your pet’s body requires is a complex and delicate system. If you experience any vomiting and/or diarrhea, be sure to reduce the amount of new food the next time you feed and overall, slow the whole transition period down even more.

    Source: Michele Dixon – Health and Nutrition Specialist for Petcurean

  • The Health Benefits of Spirulina for Dogs

    Spirulina is a microscopic algae in the shape of a perfect spiral coil. It contains the most remarkable concentration of nutrients known in any food, plant, grain or herb. Its the highest protein food- over 60% all digestible vegetable protein. It has the highest concentration of beta carotene, vitamin B-12, iron and trace minerals and the rare essential fatty acid GLA. (gamma-linolenic acid)

    Spirulina Nutrition

    Spirulina contains a number of unique phytonutrients like phycocyanin, polysaccharides and sulfolipids that enhance the immune system, possibly reducing the risk of infection, cancer and autoimmune disease. It is rich in natural carotenoid antioxidants that promote cellular health and reduce the risk of cancer. It has cleansing chlorophyll which helps detoxify our bodies of ever present pollution.

    Benefits Of Spirulina For Dogs

    Both test-tube studies and animal-based research suggest that spirulina may help to:

    • Strengthen the immune system
    • Improve gastrointestinal health
    • Aid in detoxification
    • Reduce the rate of cancer
    • Help allergies

    Spirulina Can Strengthen The Immune System

    When the immune system is stressed or suffering, it draws on the body’s metabolic energy. Dogs with immune system imbalance often feel chronic fatigue and low energy. Small amounts of spirulina can help balance and stabilize the immune system, freeing up more metabolic energy for vitality, healing and assimilation of nutrients. It enhances the body’s cellular communication process and its ability to read and repair DNA, like a kind of cellular tune up. Scientists around the world – in Japan, China, India, Europe, Russia and the USA – are discovering how and why spirulina is so effective for human and animal health. Hundreds of published scientific studies reveal how spirulina and its unique phytonutrients boost the immune system and improve health.

    Studies confirm spirulina improves immune system function. Medical scientists discovered it not only stimulates the immune system, it actually enhances the body’s ability to generate new blood cells. Important parts of the immune system – bone marrow stem cells, macrophages, T-cells and natural killer cells, spleen and thymus glands – all show enhanced activity. Scientists observe it causes macrophages to increase in number, become activated and more effective at killing germs. Because spirulina increases disease resistance in animals, even in very small doses, the animal feed industry is studying its use as a new probiotic to help replace overused antibiotic drugs in animal feeds.

    Spirulina Can Improve Gastrointestinal And Digestive Health

    Research confirms spirulina promotes digestion and bowel function. It suppresses bad bacteria like e-coli and Candida yeast and stimulates beneficial flora like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. Healthy flora is the foundation of good health and it increases absorption of nutrients from the foods we eat, and helps protect against infection.

    Spirulina Can Enhance Detoxification and Natural Cleansing

    Researchers in Japan found spirulina significantly reduced kidney toxicity caused by the heavy metal mercury and three pharmaceutical drugs. Other researchers found rats consuming spirulina or chlorella algae eliminated seven times the dangerous chemical dioxin compared to a control diet.

    In 1994, a Russian Patent was awarded for spirulina as a medical food to reduce allergic reactions from radiation sickness. 270 Children of Chernobyl consuming 5 grams a day for 45 days (donated by Earthrise Farms), lowered radionucleides by 50%, and normalized allergic sensitivities. Today our dogs are subjected to an onslaught of toxic chemicals in our air, water, food and drugs. Their bodies need to continually eliminate these accumulated toxins. Spirulina has a completely unique combination of phytonutrients – including chlorophyll, phycocyanin and polysaccharides, that can help cleanse the body.

    Spirulina Can Prevent and Treat Cancer

    Spirulina’s blue-green color is more than a pretty facade; it is also the source of much of its cancer-prevention abilities. In Healing with Whole Foods, Paul Pitchford writes, “Important to note in the area of prevention, spirulina is richly supplied with the blue pigment phycocyanin, a biliprotein which has been shown to inhibit cancer-colony formation.”

    Spirulina and its extracts have been shown to have anticancer activity in animal studies. Spirulina stimulates natural killer cells and similar anti-immune components of the immune system that can help fight cancer cells. Laboratory studies also show that spirulina polysaccharides can work to repair genetic material that has been damaged from toxins or from radiation.

    An Oregon State University study in which laboratory animals were exposed to a potent cancer-causing substance found that animals given a chlorophyll supplement prior to exposure developed far fewer tumors than animals who were not given the supplement. The researchers believe that chlorophyll may reduce the risk of developing skin, stomach, colon, and liver cancers. Take a chlorophyll or sea-greens supplement, such as spirulina and blue-green algae, as directed on the product label.

    Spirulina Can Reduce Allergies

    Clinical research points to broad basis for the anti-allergic activity of this functional food. A trial published in August 2008 demonstrated an immune-modulating effect in people who were administered spirulina for 16 weeks. Significant reductions in IL-6 (interleukin-6) were noted, which suggests a balancing effect on “immune variables”. Other experiments performed in “test tubes”, animals and humans support these prior findings and suggest that the effect of spirulina may even afford protection to those with food allergies. These test results are important because allergic reactions are partially brought about by inappropriate responses by the immune system. That explains why one dog can be severely reactive to a certain flower pollen or a common food and another in the same circumstance feels completely fine.

    Using Spirulina

    Spirulina for dogs is often sold in powder form, but it’s also available in capsules and other natural products (including juices). According to herbalist, Greg Tilford, it’s safe to use every day but because it’s so nutrient dense, it can cause diarrhea and digestive upset if feeding too much.

    According to Tilford, a daily amount of 1/4 teaspoon per pound of food is generally safe,  while cats would require 1/2 teaspoon.

    Try giving your dog spirulina as part of his daily supplementation and you might notice a shinier, more lustrous coat, fresher breath and better overall physical condition.

    Source: Dogs Naturally Magazine

  • 5 Summertime Pet Safety Tips

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    The sun is out, which means pets are out and about, too! Summertime isn’t just perfect for playing fetch at the dog park, though. It also brings plenty of potential dangers that require vigilance and awareness from pet parents.

    As important educational resources for owners, pet retailers can help spread awareness of summer pet safety through in-store displays, online newsletters and social media posts. Here are a few key safety tips to share with customers this season.

    1. Keep Pets Hydrated

    All that fun in the sun can quickly leave pets dehydrated. Ensure animals have access to fresh, clean water at all times, especially when it’s hot or humid outside.

    2. Practice Pool Safety

    You may know how to doggy paddle, but not all pups take to water naturally. Just like children, dogs need to be gradually introduced to swimming and should be left alone around bodies of water. Discourage animals from drinking pool water and always rinse them off after swimming to remove salt or chemicals.

    3. Help Pets Stay Cool

    One of the biggest dangers of the summer is heat stress. Pet parents should be on the lookout for signs of overheating, including excessive panting, increased heart rate, drooling, muscle weakness, vomiting and even seizure or collapse.

    Heat stroke can be avoided by keeping pets indoors during the hottest parts of the day and ensuring there’s ample shade while they’re outside.

    4. Never Leave Pets Unattended in Cars

    Even on mild days, temperatures inside a vehicle can climb quickly, which is dangerous for pets and humans, alike. Hundreds of pets die of heat exhaustion annually from being left in a hot car, so either bring them with you or better yet, leave them at home.

    5. Prevent Burns

    While longer haired dogs could use a trim, completely shaving pets’ fur actually leaves them susceptible to sunburns. If your pet is naturally hairless or has light colored hair, talk to your veterinarian about the bet sunscreen options.

    Paws, too, can be burnt by hot pavement, so keeps walks short and consider investing in a paw wax or dog boots.

    Source: Carly Lintz for Pet Business

  • Neighborly Dog Ownership Etiquette

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    Whether he is known to your neighbors as ‘man’s best friend’ or the ‘beast next door’ is up to you–to practice proper dog ownership etiquette is to show consideration for the needs and feelings of those living around you.

    Think Like a Parent

    Fortunately, your neighbors and your fur baby long for the same thing: doggy obedience training. As children find predictable behavior secure and reassuring, dogs also lead more fulfilling and happy lives when owners establish clear boundaries. Therefore, when setting disciplinary expectations for your dog, think like a mom or dad. If you wouldn’t allow your three-year-old child to act in a certain way, such behavior should be off limits for your dog as well. For example, you would be mortified if you caught your child wandering into the neighbor’s yard and harassing their cat, relieving themselves anywhere but their designated spot, tackling a passerby on the street, etc. While your dog is young, consider obedience school. Rather than punishment, formal training is a ticket to go anywhere, greet anyone, and be adored for their good behavior.

    Dog Ownership Etiquette

    If you are blessed with a spacious backyard, allow your dog the freedom to explore outdoors without becoming a danger to himself or a nuisance to others by installing a wood fence, which averages $769 – $1,708 in nearby Phoenix, according to HomeAdvisor. Open backyards risk your dog’s escape from your supervision, often resulting in tragic consequences such as injury or loss, or neighborhood annoyances such as property damage, for which you will be financially responsible.

    Avoiding the installation of a fence by confining your dog to the indoors isn’t solution, especially if you own a large or active breed. Dogs require regular exercise and mental stimulation, without which they usually release pent up energy through chewing, digging and, the most aggravating to your neighbors, barking. To prevent such frustration, incorporate the following activities into their daily routine:

    • Teach your dog a few commands or tricks, such as sitting, shaking or fetching a ball. Hold a training lesson for about five to 10 minutes every day.
    • Provide interesting toys to keep your dog occupied, and rotate them every few days in order to make the toys appear new and exciting.
    • Walk your dog daily. Doing so is physically and mentally stimulating for both of you.

     

    Make the daily walk a pleasant experience for you, your dog and those with whom you will come into contact. Always leash your dog when walking, and maintain control of him at all times. Only allow him to greet strangers if they initiate contact, especially if they too are walking a dog. If allowed to approach the passerby, discourage the dogs from playing while leashed, which can result in injury and your dog’s confusion about expectations for walking discipline. Simply let the dogs introduce themselves to one another by sniffing for a few seconds and continue on with your walk. Be aware of others’ feelings–if during any interaction your dog upsets another person or dog by jumping, barking or growling, apologize and take measures to prevent the behavior from recurring. Lastly, always clean up after your dog. Bring along several bags, scoop the poop no matter what, and never permit your dog to relieve himself on personal property, such as car tires, bicycles or children’s toys.

    Note that your dog’s need for adequate attention remains even when your schedule prohibits. If you must be away from home for extended periods of time, consider employing a trained and evaluated dog walker or sitter. They’ll keep your dog safe and allow your dog the exercise he needs in order to burn off some energy.

    Both your neighbors and your dog will appreciate your efforts to abide by proper dog ownership etiquette. Do so to ensure healthy neighborhood relationships and a happy dog.

    *Written by Jessica Brody

     

  • Preparing Your Home & Family For A New Pet

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    In movies and on television, bringing home a new pet requires little more than a red bow and a bag of kibble. But in real life, choosing and preparing for a new pet means planning and at least a little research. After all, caring for an animal is a big commitment and you’ll want to do everything you can to set this new relationship up for success. From choosing a breed to pet-proofing your home, these tips will walk you through the process so you can focus on bonding, instead of stressing.

    Choose The Right Pet For You

    While dogs are a popular choice (with an estimated 78 million kept as pets in the U.S., according to the ASPCA) they aren’t the only choice and may not be the best option for you. When deciding the best animal for you and your family, consider:

    The Size Of Your Home And Yard – Do you have enough space to live comfortably with a large dog? Will you have to enclose your yard to keep your pet safe outdoors? If letting your pet out unattended is not an option, are you willing to walk your dog daily, sometimes in the rain or snow?

    The Activities You Plan To Enjoy With Your Pet – Your lifestyle and the activities you enjoy can help you determine what type of pet is right for you. If you’re planning on walking or running regularly with your new pet, you’ll want an active breed that can keep up. If you’re more of a couch potato, you might consider a cat, an aquarium of fish, or a less active breed of dog, like a pug. The American Kennel Club has a quiz that can match your lifestyle with an optimal breed.

    Allergies – Is anyone in your home allergic to specific animals? While an allergy may prompt you to look into alternative animals, like a fish or a lizard, your dreams of dog or cat companionship don’t have to be dashed. Of course, no dog or cat is 100% hypoallergenic, but there are breeds more easily tolerated by allergy sufferers. You can find complete lists of hypoallergenic cat and dog breeds online.

    Preparing For Your Pet

    Before bringing your new pet home, you’ll want to discuss who will be responsible for different aspects of its care. Older children may be trusted to walk a small to medium-sized dog, while everyone can share in feeding and grooming tasks.

    You’ll also want to purchase the supplies, food, and gear necessary for when your pet comes home. This includes food, bowls, toys, litter box, leash, cages, treats, and a bed. If you’re adopting a dog or a cat, check with the breeder or shelter to find out which brand of food your pet is already accustomed to. Keeping your pet’s kibble consistent can prevent digestive discomfort and ease a frightening transition.

    Choose a veterinarian before bringing your pet home and schedule a checkup within the first week or two after your pet’s arrival. You should also locate the nearest 24-hour emergency animal hospital and post their phone number where everyone in the house can find it.

    Pet-Proof Your Home

    Make sure that cords are secure and that any houseplants you have won’t be a health hazard to your new pet. With puppies, it’s also a good idea to store shoes, garbage bins, and laundry baskets out of harm’s way. If you have any pest or rodent traps or repellents, make sure those are also out of reach.

    Bringing Your New Pet Home

    Bring your new pet home at the beginning of the weekend or at the least, schedule it so you can devote a full day to helping your pet acclimate to its new surroundings. Use a crate or harness when transporting your animal, as a fearful or curious pet can quickly distract the driver or get underfoot, interfering with braking and accelerating. Upon entering your home, don’t bombard or overwhelm your new pet, especially rescue animals who may be nervous in new surroundings. Remind your children of the animal’s possible fears and encourage them to sit and talk calmly to your pet until he’s comfortable.

    Once you’ve let your new pet explore its new surroundings, introduce your pet to where you expect him to use the bathroom. Let your pet sniff around, do his business, and then offer praise for going where he’s supposed to.

    Bonding With Your New Pet

    During your pet’s first week home, balance all those snuggles and attention with plenty of space for your pet to explore, gain independence, and settle into a natural schedule. You should also use this time to identify any additional necessary pet-proofing. Dedicate time in your daily schedule for walking, running around the yard, and/or playing with toys. While there will certainly be accidents, messes, and a period of adjustment for you both, pet-proofing and preparation will go a long way toward heading off trouble before it begins, giving you more opportunity to bond with your new pet.

    Preparing For An Elderly Pet

    Your first days at home with a new-to-you elderly pet, or a pet from a shelter, should be kept as relaxing as possible. Prep your home to accommodate an older animal, and put off visitors and trips to the vet during the first week your pet comes home. If your new pet seems to sleep a lot during this time, there’s probably no need to worry. Many rescue animals come from noisy and stressful kennels and the peace and quiet of your home may give them a chance to finally get some shut-eye. If your elderly or shelter pet’s personality seems lackluster in the first few days, give it time. It’s normal for a newly adopted pet to “lay low” during the first week in a new home. Your animal’s personality will emerge more and more as he begins to feel comfortable.

    While no amount of preparation will potty-train a puppy or save every pair of shoes from chew-toy status, there are ways to ensure that the transition goes smoothly, for both you and your new pet. Remember to be patient and avoid overwhelming your new animal. It won’t be long before he’s walking around like he owns the place.

    *Written by Jessica Brody

  • 9 Things Humans Do That Stress Our Dogs Out

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    When we love our dogs like family, we sometimes forget that they don’t understand us quite like our human relatives. Sometimes we try to have full-on conversations with them or unknowingly send them body language signals that are interpreted differently in the animal kingdom. For these reasons, we’ve compiled a list of 9 common things that humans do that stress dogs out.

    If you’ve done any of these things, don’t worry–we all have! But by being more aware, we can try to communicate with our canines as clearly as possible. And lucky for us, there’s no limit to their forgiveness!

    1. Getting frustrated when your dog acts like…a dog!

    Dogs bark, dig, chew, sniff, and steal table scraps that are within snout’s reach. To them, it’s natural behavior! (Plus, they don’t understand the value of your favorite pair of shoes.) However, this doesn’t mean your dog should have free reign to do whatever he likes. Instead of punishing these behaviors, they need to be redirected–and this takes patience! Vet Street suggests alternatives such as giving chewers stuffed Kongs to gnaw on, or teaching barkers to learn to use their “inside voice”.

    2. Having inconsistent rules and boundaries

    Dogs thrive on consistency and routine, and take comfort in it. If your pup is allowed on the couch one week, then scolded for it the next, she will become stressed when she can’t anticipate your reaction to her behavior. She won’t understand if one night you decide to “let it slide” or you allow her to break the rules for a “special occasion.” When you create boundaries, stick to them!

    3. Expecting your dog to obey you just because he wants to make you happy

    While our dogs love seeing us happy, they’re still animals and opportunists (for instance, if they see an opportunity to snatch some leftover chicken off the counter, they will usually take it!). Some dogs do obey their owners simply to please them, but most of them perform for one simple reason: to receive their reward! Vet Street explains that inconsistent rewarding will most likely lead to inconsistent behavior. And you can’t be angry with your dog for not obeying if he can’t expect a treat in return.

    4. Using multiple verbal cues to indicate the same behavior

    This one can be a tough habit to break! Say your dog is barking at the mailman, so you say, “shh!” “stop!” and “quiet.” You’ve given her three different commands that are supposed mean the same thing: quit barking! Your dog gets confused so she continues to bark and eventually gets scolded–but she doesn’t know why! The best plan is to come up with specific words to apply to each trick or command, and to make sure everyone in your family is on the same page. If you use “down” for “lay down,” you may have to use something like “floor” to tell your pup to get off the bed! (Here is a great article on giving command cues.)

    5. Saying “it’s okay” when your dog thinks it’s not

    When our dogs are anxious, we want to comfort them. Often saying “it’s okay” in a soothing tone is our natural human response. But according to Healthy Pets (via Mercola), we’re training them to think the opposite. If we use the phrase in conjunction with doing something they don’t like–for instance, taking them to the vet or as we’re trying to clip their nails–they learn to associate the phrase with things that aren’t okay! If “it’s okay” means something bad is about to happen, that can really stress your dog out!

    6. Pointing or shaking a finger at her

    Healthy Pets explains that this gesture is a “universal stress inducer for dogs.” The article says that it is often accompanied with an angry gesture, a hovering stance, and a stern tone. Your pup may not remember when he did to deserve the “finger point,” but he will know that you’re upset with him, causing anxiety.

    7. Restraining or cornering a dog to give him affection

    There is debate whether dogs like hugs or not. The answer is simple: it depends on the dog. (And also the human–some dogs may only enjoy hugs from their trusted loved ones.) While humans know hugs to be a sign of affection, some dogs feel nervous or trapped when a human wraps their arms around them. Note that there is a difference between hugs and cuddling: a dog that doesn’t like hugs may still love to snuggle because he doesn’t feel restrained. The point is, we need to keep in mind that each dog has a different comfort threshold. They deserve to have their personal boundaries respected, too!

    8. Staring at a dog you don’t know

    First off, there is a difference between the loving gazes shared between a pup and her family members and a dog that’s being stared down by a stranger–we’re talking about the latter. If you meet a new dog, try to avoid eye contact and staring at him as he’s getting to know you. Some dogs will consider extended eye contact from a stranger to be a challenge, which will increase their stress response.

    9. Not giving him enough exercise

    Like humans, dogs get bored if they don’t have enough physical and mental stimulation in their lives. “Dogs that are unsatisfied and bored will often start destructive behaviors such as chewing and digging, which leads to unfair punishment and stress,” explains Katie Finlay for iHeartDogs. Remember, your dog can’t entertain himself by enjoying a Netflix binge or taking himself for a walk. He depends on you to stay fit, physically and mentally!

    Written by Karen Tietjen
    *Source courtesy of IHeartDogs.com

  • Preventing Aggression: 6 Tips For Socialized Puppies

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    With the new year approaching, there will be an abundance of cute new puppies. It is important to know the proper etiquette when it comes to socializing puppies. When thinking about aggressive dogs, one might first imagine a pit bull, rottweiler or german shepherd. But their bad reputations have come from a great deal of misinformation and hype being fed to the general public over the years.

    Many people might be surprised to learn that members of these particular breeds aren’t amongst the most aggressive. Smaller dogs can be just as mean or overbearing as larger ones, it depends on many factors, including training and socialization techniques.

    While any dog has the potential to be aggressive, according to their unique breed characteristics many canines can be unfriendly to unfamiliar dogs. This is one of the many reasons why it is so important to socialize your pet, especially when they’re at their youngest.

    #1 – Start Young

    Just like human children, those formidable years from infancy through becoming a toddler, are crucial to their psychological and social development. For dogs, there are two stages thought to be the most important time to begin socialization techniques. The first comes at 3-5 weeks of age and the second at 6-12 weeks.

    Although the first time period is likely out of our control, it’s important for puppies to stay with their mother and other siblings during this important bonding and development stage. This is when these young dogs establish a “pecking order,” as the more dominant one steps up as a “leader of the pack” and the more submissive dogs will follow.

    #2 – Picking Your Puppy

    If you’re choosing a puppy and you’re able to see them with their litter-mates, you’ll likely be able to tell who is, in fact, the leader of the pack. If this will be your only dog, the strongest of the bunch be likely be more outgoing and playful. On the other hand, if you’re adding another dog to your family, you should look for one that is more on the submissive side. Conversely, many people prefer the runt of the litter and believe them to have the potential for the most personality.

    #3 – People Pleasing

    Puppies are naturally curious and are likely to warm up to just about anyone, but if they do shy away from a new person in your home, politely ask your guest to take a seat and ignore the animal completely. Trying to force an instant bond is not the route to take in this particular situation. Instead, give the dog some space and let them make the first move, on their own terms and time schedule … they’ll come around … literally.

    #4 – Other Dogs

    Your best bet for a good first encounter with another dog is with an older female, especially one who has given birth in the past. They’re much more likely to be accepting and affectionate with your youngster. When you do put another animal in the presence of your pup, begin by holding your dog and letting them view the newcomer from a distance at first.

    When they begin to interact, stay close, but only intervene if there’s trouble brewing. Dogs will naturally explore each other with plenty of sniffing and could begin to play. Again, only step in if there is aggressive growling or biting, but even a few little nips are safe.

    #5 – Other Animals

    If possible, try to introduce your puppy to many different breeds and types of other animals, especially cats. They’ll learn that other animals are their friends and not prey, which means they’ll be less likely to chase felines in the future. If you don’t have a cat, see if you can borrow one from a friend or family member who may have one that’s already dog-friendly.

    #6 – Children

    Start with older children who know how to behave around dogs and work your way down to the younger brood. If you have children of your own, teach them how to behave around animals and be sure they understand they shouldn’t assume puppies want to play 24/7. Children should also know to let sleeping dogs lie and don’t bother them while they’re eating.

    In closing, after the ice has been broken, so to speak, especially during this formative time, introduce your puppy to as many different kinds of people, sights and sounds as humanly possible. This will make them more confident and less fearful in the long run.

    *Written by Amber Kingsley

  • Does Your Dog Have Anxiety?

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    The majority of dogs seemingly have little to worry about. With humans providing them with practically everything they need, it’s hard to imagine that dogs would have anything to cause them anxiety. We humans tend to think of anxiety as a human-only problem, the result of our daily stresses over matters such as our careers, our relationships, and our fears about the meaning of life. Believe it or not, it’s surprisingly common for dogs to feel anxious, too. Even though dogs may never have to worry about paying their bills, maintaining a marriage, or achieving complete satisfaction with their lives, they can experience nervousness that can affect their behavior.

    It’s important for dog owners to understand this, because anxiety can cause a number of problems for them and their dogs. A dog that has anxiety may have difficulty eating, damage the house when left alone, or pick fights with other dogs. Since no dog owner wants to deal with these types of behavioral issues, it’s vital for dog owners to understand the potential causes of anxiety in their dogs, how to prevent it, and what treatments exist.

    What Causes Anxiety in Dogs?

    Anxiety can be the result of a fear, a dog’s personality, or age-related conditions. For example, one of the most common sources of anxiety in dogs is the fear of unfamiliar or unpleasant locations, such as a new home, or the vet’s office. Separation anxiety is another extremely common trigger, as dogs often don’t know how to cope with being left alone for extended periods. Older dogs may experience cognitive disorders as they age, leaving them confused and forgetful. This makes them more prone to anxiety.

    How Can I Tell if My Dog Has Anxiety?

    Any sudden change in your dog’s behavior may be the result of anxiety. In general, though, there are some definitive warning signs that can indicate your dog may need some help. Some of these signs can be glaringly obvious, but others might not be noticeable right away. Here are some of the most common behavioral changes that may indicate your dog is experiencing anxiety:

    • Destructive behavior. A dog that is feeling anxious may lash out at its surroundings in an attempt to escape. Your dog may try to chew through a door or rip furniture apart.
    • Housebreaking issues. Even if a dog is housebroken, it may urinate or defecate inside the house if it is feeling anxious. This behavior typically is associated with separation anxiety.
    • Repetitive behavior. Pacing around the room, overgrooming the same body part, or other repeated behaviors could be signs that your dog is nervous about something, especially if the behavior doesn’t seem to have any apparent purpose.
    • Aggression. A dog that snarls and snaps at other dogs or even people may be experiencing some form of anxiety. Growling and barking are telltale signs of aggressive behavior.

    How Can I Prevent Anxiety in My Dog?

    Although dogs can have anxiety no matter what, there are some steps dog owners can take that can prevent anxiety and give their dogs the coping skills they need to deal with stress. These include:

    • Obedience training. Giving your dog a foundation of strong obedience training can help create a stronger bond between you and your dog. Ultimately, helping your dog feel more secure.
    • Socialization. When dogs are often exposed to people and animals that are new to them, it can help them feel more at ease when they encounter different people and new situations in the future.
    • Learning to read body language. Your dog’s body language often is the first sign that it is experiencing anxiety, so it’s important for dog owners to learn to read it. If your dog has a specific type of body language when it begins to feel nervous, such as tucking its tail between its legs, excessive panting or drooling, it may be easier to identify the situations that are causing stress.
    • Avoiding stress. It may be possible to simply avoid the situations that cause your dog to experience anxiety. For example, if you know that fireworks cause your dog to experience anxiety attacks, it might be best to keep it inside on the Fourth of July.

    A dog’s life is often pampered with many products to make pets happy and comfortable. Yet even with the most doting owner, a dog may still experience anxiety. That anxiety can lead to serious behavioral issues unless they are addressed, so it’s up to dog owners to identify anxiety in their dogs and help them overcome it.

    Written by Stephanie N. Blahut

    Stephanie is Director of Marketing for Figo Pet Insurance. Figo is committed to helping pets and their families enjoy their lives together by fusing innovative technology — the first-of-its-kind Figo Pet Cloud — and the industry’s best pet insurance plans.